Tax defaulters could take HMRC to court

TAX EVADERS could launch human right court battles against HM Revenue & Customs for keeping them under scrutiny, warns City law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC).

As part of HMRC’s Managing Deliberate Defaulters programme, the taxman will track individuals that have evaded tax in the last five years.

However, RPC claims this could provoke legal proceedings as the scrutiny could infringe on rights to “privacy” or “peaceful enjoyment of their property”.

Jonathan Levy, head of tax disputes at RPC, said: “HMRC are obliged to comply with the Human Rights Act and the European Convention of Human Rights. Taking such a proactive and targeted approach may, in certain circumstances, infringe taxpayers’ human rights.”

“Whilst no one should condone deliberate tax evasion, the police do not target ‘known’ criminals in such a way, so it is surprising that the tax authorities have decided to adopt such an approach.”

The new measures include unannounced inspection visits, record checks, requests for extra information and inspecting the records of an organisation’s customers.

Levy explains some of the targeted individuals may not be “deliberate defaulters”. They may be in disagreement with HMRC over the structue they use to avoid tax.

The strategy appears to have been decided by HMRC without parliamentary approval, he added.

HMRC has already begun monitoring 900 individuals as part of the programme.

Related reading